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Effort underway for new Brooklyn mural


by: RITA A. LEONARD - Artist Hector Hernandez displays alternate versions of his proposed Brooklyn mural celebrating the Cascades. So far, the Regional Arts Council has not smiled on the project, although it is being advocated by the Brooklyn Action Corps neighborhood association.Mural artist Hector Hernandez, whose Brooklyn studio is adjacent to his mural “Flowering Legacy”, seen by Powell Boulevard drivers at S.E. 13th, is proposing a new mural for the neighborhood.

Hernandez recently met with the Brooklyn Action Corps to seek support for his proposal to create a community mural celebrating the beauty of the Cascades and its natural wonders.

Hernandez reports that he has made arrangements with a neighboring business to paint the proposed twenty by sixty foot design on the north side of their building, but he needs a city permit in order to proceed. He has already submitted his designs twice to the Regional Arts & Culture Commission, seeking funding and a permit through their processes – but, he says, he has been rejected both times.

“I don't want to try again through RACC, so I’m going through the City of Portland’s Bureau of Development Services on an Original Art Mural Permit Application, which is not funded by anyone in particular,” he says.

“I have already established my reputation as a public muralist in many cities across Oregon, sometimes financing the murals on my own. I hope that, in the future, neighborhoods have more of a hand in choosing public art for their own communities.”

Hernandez cites Portland’s nine years of litigation (1997-2006) with Clear Channel Media, which owns 80% of Portland’s billboards, to establish a procedure for granting public murals. Clear Channel sued the City of Portland for damages, but the city appealed, and won the right to establish a public art procedure for allowing permits. This procedure has become a model in dealing with corporations.

Going through the RACC is currently one of the ways to obtain a city permit, but Hernandez feels that there's not enough community interaction in the process, and it is time to be revised.

“RACC appears to be ‘curating’ the city as a private gallery, instead of treating murals as a means of freedom of expression by the artist,” he charges. “The Mural Program is part of the public art process, but I feel that members of the community should be a part of the process as well. This is a reactive regulation, based on litigation with media corporations.

“Many artists are protesting against the policies of ‘graffiti abatement’ as a detraction to real artists, through the Portland Street Art Alliance. There has to be a reasonable compromise between the two.” Hernandez says that he wants to thank the building owner of “OrthoMed” for his patience and support through the Permits process. He also thanks the BAC for their support in requesting an appeal to the RACC, concerning its second rejection. While he waits and hopes for a positive decision, Hernandez continues to work on various art projects in his studio. You can see more of his work online at: www.hectorhh.com/gallery/mural.html – and at: www.behance.net/hectorhh